Shockingly, more than 360,000 tonnes of clothing are thrown away in the UK every single year. But positive change is slowly happening – particularly at the individual and local level – with more and more of us are shunning fast fashion and choosing to seek out more sustainable options.
The Charity Retail Association, the national body representing charity retailers, said in 2022 their combined 9,000 shops saw sales rise 10% compared to the same period in 2021, raising approximately £360m a year.
If you are just dipping your toe into the world of pre-loved and pre-owned fashion for the first time, #SecondhandSeptember is a great time to get started. The campaign, which was originally started by Oxfam to promote donating, reusing, rewearing and restyling clothes during the month of September, now inspires events all over the UK.
Here’s how you can get involved in Cardiff:
1. Check out Cardiff’s vintage boutiques
Vintage boutiques are treasure troves of lived-in Levis, natty knits and retro sportswear. Inside Cardiff’s old arcades you can find Hobos – a colourful secondhand store selling retro fashion and accessories from 1950s to the present; and Sobeys – stocking a wide range of vintage, reworked and preloved pieces.
This month, Cardiff also welcomed Beyond Retro to the city centre. The famed vintage chain has earned a reputation as the go-to destination for having a huge selection of handpicked vintage clothing; if you can’t get there in real life, their online shop also offers a celebration of style through the decades.
2. Look out for Kilo Sales and Pop Up Markets
Look out for local Kilo sales, which allow you to literally buy a kilogram of second hand clothes for a fixed price. What’s on the rails has often been pre-sorted by someone with a good eye for fashionable finds, too.
Pop up vintage markets are also becoming common; have a look at Eventbrite listings in your local area.
3. Raid the charity shops
Head to your local charity shop to unearth some gems whilst also giving to a good cause. Many charities are setting up fashion-only second-hand shops, meaning you won’t have to skirt around piles of mismatched crockery and copies of The Da Vinci Code to get to the good stuff.
There’s a rumour that higher end high-street chains also donate surplus stock to charity shops, who sell these products with the labels removed to prevent returns to the original store. So if you spot something brand-new with no label, you could be clutching an even bigger bargain than usual.
4. Shop your own wardrobe
Got a bedroom full of clothes and still “nothing to wear”? From fixing broken straps and small holes, to adding embellishments, or getting a few key pieces professionally tailored, there are lots of ways to make old clothes feel like ‘new’ again. Cardiff-based sustainable stylist Claire Rees has plenty of tips – give her a follow on Instagram for loads of eco-fashion inspiration.
5. Swap clothes with pals – or a stranger!
One man’s trash is another’s treasure, as they say. So if you always find yourself lusting over your best mates clobber, why not try organising a swap? Ask a few mates to rifle through their wardrobes and pick out a couple of pieces they never wear. Then get together over a few drinks for a night of outfit swapping – anything that goes unclaimed can go the charity shop in the morning.
Alternatively, look out for an organised event – like the recent Sustainable Swap Shop at St David’s Shopping Centre, organised by FOR Cardiff.
6. Try the fashion resale apps
Resale sites and apps mean you can shop second-hand from the comfort of your couch. I like Depop and Vinted, and have found some real bargains – as well as selling plenty of outfits which I have ‘grown out of’ in the last few years (blame the wine).
Other sites like Micolet – which started in Spain but has now expanded into five more countries across Europe – offer up to 90% off big-name brands including Zara, Ted Baker and Topshop.
7. Head over to eBay
eBay is still a great place to find second hand fashion bargains; they even showed off their credentials as the official fashion partner for last year’s Love Island. It was a move which made front page news – and has since proven very successful.
Rather than browsing, I find that the trick with eBay is to know exactly what you’re looking for, and search for that specific item.
Got any more tips for shopping second hand fashion in Cardiff? Let me know in the comments below.